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a very little — disappointed. She had divined him, which was a wonderful proof of her genius; but yet at the bottom she was only an ignorant woman after all.
"I see it all quite clear what to do," said Miss Marjoribanks. "You must have the Colonel and Sir John, and everybody. I would not pay the least attention to Tories or Whigs, or anything of the sort. For my part I don't see any difference. All that has to be said about it is simply that you are the right man. Papa might object to one thing and the Colonel might object to another, and then if Sir John, as you say, is of quite another way of
thinking But you are the man for Carlingford
all the same; and none of them can say a word against that," said Lucilla, with energy. She stopped short, with her colour rising and her eyes brightening. She felt herself inspired, which was a new sensation, and very pleasant; and then the idea of such a coming struggle was sweet to Miss Marjoribanks, and the conviction burst upon her that she was striking out a perfectly new and original line.
As for her candidate, he smiled, and hesitated, and paid her pretty little compliments for a few minutes longer, and said it was very good of her to interest herself in his fortunes. All which Lucilla listened to with great impatience, feeling that it had
Vol. m. B
nothing to do with the matter in hand. But then after these few minutes had elapsed the meaning of his fair adviser, as he called her, began to dawn upon Mr Ashburton's mind. He began to prick up his mental ears, so to speak, and see that it was not womanish ignorance, but an actual suggestion. For, after all, so long as he was the Man for Carlingford, all the rest was of little importance. He took something out of his pocket, which was his address to the constituency of Carlingford (for being anxious on the subject, he had heard of Mr Chiltern's death an hour or two before anybody else), and choke-full of political sentiments. In it he described to the electors what he would do if they sent him to Parliament, as carefully as if their election could make him Prime Minister at least; and naturally a man does not like to sacrifice such a confession of faith. "I should like to read it to you," he said, spreading it out with affectionate oare: but Lucilla had already arranged her plans, and knew better than that.
"If you were to read it to me," said Miss Marjoribanks, "I should be sure to be convinced that you were quite right, and to go in with you for everything; and then I should be no good, you know. If it were to drive papa and Sir John and the Colonel all to their own ways of thinking, we never should make any progress. I would never mind about anybody's ways of thinking, if I were you. After all," said Lucilla, with fine satire, of which she was unconscious, "what does it matter what people think? I suppose when it comes to doing anything, the Whigs and the Tories are just the same. Mr Ashburton, it is the Man that is wanted," said Miss Marjoribanks, with all the warmth of sudden conviction. She felt a little like Joan of Arc as she spoke. When an army has the aid of a sacred maiden to bring inspiration to its counsels, the idea of going on in the old formal way is no longer to be tolerated. And such was the force of Lucilla's conviction, that Mr Ashburton, though he felt a little affronted, and could not but look with fond and compunctious regret upon his address, yet began more and more to feel that there was justice in what she said.
"I will think over what you say," he said, rather stiffly, and put up his address—for it was natural, when he had done her such an honour as to offer to read it to her, that he should be affronted by her refusal. It was a bold experiment on Lucilla's part, but then she was carried out of herself at the moment by this singular flash of inspiration. "I will think over what you say," Mr Ashburton continued; "and if my
judgment approves At all events I shall not issue
this till I have thought it all over. I am sure I am extremely obliged to you for your interest." And here he stopped short, and looked as if he were going to get up and go away, which would have spoiled all.
"You are going to stop to lunch," said Lucilla; "somebody is sure to come in. And you know you must not lose any opportunity of seeing people. I am so glad to-night is Thursday. Tell me just one thing, Mr Ashburton, before any one comes. There is one thing that is really important, and must be fixed upon. If we were to make any mistake, you know"
"What?" said the candidate, eagerly—"about Eeform? I have expressed myself very clearly"
Lucilla smiled compassionately, and with the gentlest tolerance, at this wild suggestion. "I was not thinking of Reform," she said, with that meekness which people assume when it is of no use being impatient. "I was thinking what your colours were to be. I would not have anything to do with the old colours, for my part—they would be as bad as opinions, you know. You may laugh, but I am quite in earnest," said Miss Marjoribanks. As for Mr Ashburton, he did not begin to laugh until he had fixed upon her that gaze of utter amazement and doubt with which on many similar occasions ordinary people had regarded Lucilla—thinking she was joking, or acting, or doing something quite different from the severe sin
cerity which was her leading principle. She was so used to it, that she waited with perfect patience till her companion's explosion of amusement was over. He was thinking to himself what a fool she was, or what a fool he was to think of taking a woman into his counsels, or what curious unintelligible creatures women were, made up of sense and folly; and all the time he laughed, which was a relief to his feelings. Miss Marjoribanks laughed a little too, to keep him in countenance, for she was always the soul of goodnature; and then she repeated, "Now you must tell me what our colours are to be"
"I am sure I don't know anything about colours," said the candidate, "any more than you do about opinions. I think they are equally unimportant, to say the least. I shall adopt the colours of my fair counsellor," Mr Ashburton added, laughing, and making a mock bow to her, and getting his hat as he did so—for he had naturally calmed down a little from the first enthusiasm with which he had hailed the woman who divined him, and he did not mean to stay.
"Blue and yellow are the old colours," said Lucilla, thoughtfully, "and you are the new man, you know, and we must not meddle with these antiquated things. Do you think this would do?" As she spoke she took up a handful of ribbons which were lying by, and put them up to her face with an air of serious deliberation